Prior to the start of the 2013 campaign, optimism ran high. Rogers, trying to capitalize on Blue Jays fever, re-broadcast the 1993 World Series, perhaps to create some sort of tie-in between the last World Series championship in Toronto and the supposed World Series contender.
Things don’t always work out quite as intended.
We all know what happened next. Optimism quickly fizzled as the Blue Jays quickly spiraled into oblivion, injuries took their toll, and the fan base quickly started pointing fingers. World Series dreams quickly faded and the rooting interest that supplanted it was Toronto’s draft position in 2014.
And what of that re-broadcast of the 1993 World Series? Well, it helped to remind Blue Jays fans, both new and old, of a time long ago, when a winning team took the field and there was meaningful fall baseball to be had by all. But it served another purpose as well. It served as a tether to a past the the current generation of Blue Jays fans cannot break.
We were reminded on Monday night of how much a tether like that can weigh on a franchise. The Pittsburgh Pirates cut that anchor on Monday, ending their own playoff drought, which dated back to 1992. And while it is a heart-warming story for a fan-base that has not enjoyed a winning season since that last appearance, it is nonetheless a kick in the teeth for Blue Jays fans.
We now own baseball’s second longest playoff drought, one of only two that equal or surpass the 20-year mark.
The only other team in baseball to spend more time home in October is the Kansas City Royals, who haven’t tasted playoff baseball since 1985, when they also won a World Series. However, the Royals have one thing the Blue Jays don’t currently have; a glimmer of hope. Kansas City sits just 3 games out of the Wild Card, so even if they don’t make the postseason, they are still playing for something at this point in the season.
The Blue Jays, well they mailed it in in August, effectively making fans look to 2014 and hope that something comes along to make sure it doesn’t turn into a 21-year slide. The 2013 winter of throwing R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Melky Cabrera, and Mark Buehrle at the drought didn’t seem to break it. What will Alex Anthopoulous have to do in 2014 to finish off the job?
Dubious as it may be, at least the 2013 Toronto Blue Jays season carried one distinction. And it is one we’d all gladly let go of in 2014.